“Hempcrete” hotel to open in South Africa this summer

by: Felicity Cousins | July 13, 2023

SOUTH AFRICA: A hotel made using predominantly hemp, instead of concrete, will open this summer in Cape Town.

The 54-room Hemp Hotel has been constructed using hemp blocks, known as “hempcrete”, which are made from the woody parts of hemp plants. The blocks are then supported by a cement-and-concrete structure. 

The project has been undertaken by hemp producer Hemporium in partnership with Afrimat Hemp and Wolf + Wolf Architects.

Hempcrete is a carbon negative material as it sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere – and according to Wolf + Wolf, Architects “about 108kg of CO2 can be locked away as biomass per cubic metre.” The carbon then stays locked within the building for the next 50 years.

Hemp blocks are more expensive than traditional building materials, but can help to reduce construction / labour times and therefore can make significant savings to the development process (around 30 per cent). In the case of the Cape Town hemp hotel the hemp has been imported from the UK, so this saving is not realised. However, with hemp cultivation licenses issued in South Africa last year, prices are expected to drop for future projects as the blocks will be sourced locally.

Afrimat Hemp is now preparing to produce its first blocks made only with South African hemp and according to the company the carbon footprint of a 40sqm house built with hemp is three tons of CO2 lower than that of a conventionally constructed building.

Wolf + Wolf Architects explains why it uses hemp in its designs. “Of all the plant fibres used in construction, hemp boasts several characteristics that make it superior from both the ecological perspective as well as the economic one. With most conventional wall construction techniques, you can expect to find multiple layers of different materials each performing only one specific function. For example, a steel framed structure with a composite wall system requires an insulation layer, a vapour barrier layer, a breather membrane and a sheathing layer, as well as the finishing cladding…A hempcrete wall can perform all of these functions …” 

Hempcrete is known as being good for insulation, has fireproof properties, and is 100 per cent biodegradable.

The 12 storey hotel will have solar panels on the roof and is due to open this summer.

Check out our Glossary of Sustainable Hotel terms here.

Image: CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash